Today, 120 years ago, the first successful Caesarean in Africa is performed

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The first successful Caesarean in Africa is performed in Cape Town by Dr. James Barry.

Caesarean section, or CS, is supposedly named after the assassinated Roman leader, Julius Caesar. However, researchers think it was highly unlikely that Julius Caesar was born via CS, as the abdominal birth mortality rate of mothers at the time was presumed to be about 100 percent.

In fact, it was not until the 1700s that any successful Caesarean procedures were recorded. A successful CS is defined as the survival of the baby and mother for at least a month after the operation, the first of which was recorded in the Netherlands in 1792.

The first successful CS in Africa was performed by Dr. James Barry, an army surgeon, in Cape Town. The procedure was completed with permission from the baby’s father, Thomas Munnik, despite the disapproval of the local church.

The baby was named James Barry Munnik after the doctor, and lived to be 78 years old. Coincidentally he gave this name to his godson, prominent politician Gen. James Barry Munnik Hertzog.

Interestingly, the sex of Dr. James Barry was later disputed, as he was believed to have actually been a woman in disguise, namely Margaret Ann Bulkley, who pretended to be a man so that she could attend medical school in Edinburgh.

Source: South African History Online

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